A Sense of safety: What young people are capable of in the face of disaster

Children and young people hold a potentially powerful place of leadership within families and communities when it comes to preparedness and recovery from disasters. They are also among the most vulnerable – both in the immediate and ongoing recovery process.

When there aren’t always words to express the enormity of an experience, how can the arts provide a space for sharing stories, building resilience, reducing isolation, giving voice to experience and making sense of the unimaginable?

In this episode of Creative Responders, Scotia Monkivitch visits Strathewen Primary School in rural Victoria to hear from Principal Jane Hayward and a group of Year 6 students about their innovative approach to disaster preparedness following 2009’s Black Saturday bushfires. 

We also speak to Professor Lisa Gibbs, the lead researcher of Melbourne University’s ‘Beyond Bushfires’ study, about the importance of fostering leadership, agency and self-determination among children in the face of disaster and Doctor Louise Phillips joins us to explore the role the arts play in leading this evolution.


Jane Hayward, Principal, Strathewen Primary School

Strathewen Primary School Students: Liam Brereton, Rory Gravette, Scarlett Harrison, Lachlan Seckold, Brodie Donoghue

Lisal O’Brian, Arthurs Creek Strathewen Fire Brigade

Professor Lisa Gibbs, Director of the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program at the University of Melbourne. Lead researcher of the Beyond Bushfires study which is providing ongoing insight into how people are managing after the Black Saturday bushfires.

Doctor Louise Phillips, Associate Professor in Education at James Cook University, Singapore who researches in the fields of children’s rights and arts based methodologies and co-author of the new book ‘Young Children’s Community Building in Action: Embodied, Emplaced and Relational Citizenship

Production Credits:

The series is produced by Scotia Monkivitch and Creative Recovery Network Project Manager Jill Robson, in collaboration with Audiocraft: Executive Producer Jess O’Callaghan, Producer Selena Shannon, Sound Engineer Tiffany Dimmack.

How to Listen

You can find Creative Responders on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favourite podcast app. You can also listen to all of our episodes right here on our website and access transcripts and resources related to each episode.

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Case study library

Would you like to hear about more arts-based programs supporting and strengthening communities? Our case study library features a range of projects that harness the power of the arts to enhance all stages of disaster planning.